Greens set to vote in favour of NAMA

THE Green Party leadership is confident of securing members’ support for NAMA when they meet next month to vote on the issue.

It came as weekend reports suggested the Government will pay €60bn for the €90bn of loans which NAMA will take from the banks in a bid to cleanse their balance sheets of risky debt.

That would represent just a 33% discount, when many independent analysts have been arguing for a “haircut” of at least 50%.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan will give an estimated purchase price when the Dáil resumes following its summer recess on Wednesday.

He is expected to argue that, on average, the developers who obtained these loans put up the first 25% themselves – money which they have now lost. As a result, Mr Lenihan will claim that the effective discount is well above 50% when the developers’ losses are factored in.

But for NAMA to go ahead, it will need the green light from Fianna Fáil’s coalition partners, the Greens.

Were a majority of Green members to reject NAMA at next month’s conference, it would almost certainly lead to the collapse of the coalition, as party TDs would be unable to vote for the bank plan in the Dáil.

But Green leader John Gormley and his parliamentary party colleagues are now quietly confident following a weekend debate on the issue.

Approximately 150 members of the Greens met in Athlone on Saturday to discuss NAMA.

The meeting was viewed as a “warm-up” to next month’s conference, when members are expected to vote on both NAMA and a revised Programme for Government.

The Greens held a “preferendum” at the meeting, giving members the chance to express their preference for NAMA or other options.

Six options were tabled – [a] allowing the market take its course; NAMA as currently drafted; [c] NAMA with significant “Green” modifications; [d] the model used in Sweden to deal with its banking crisis in the 1990s; [e] the formation of a “good bank“, along the lines proposed by Fine Gael; and [e] total nationalisation.

Although the party refused to reveal the result, it’s understood that a majority of members opted for NAMA with Green modifications, followed by the Swedish model.

As a result, even though considerable criticism of NAMA was voiced at the meeting, the leadership now feels confident it can achieve support for NAMA when the formal vote is taken next month, probably on October 10.

Much will depend, however, on whether the Greens can get the “modifications” envisaged by members. A party source said the Greens had already got some concessions and could get others, but a small number were completely unrealistic to expect.


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